LONDON: British high street retail chains, already reeling from dire January trading figures, could lose up to 40% of their sales to internet-based rivals over the next thirteen years. Or so hypes a new report commissioned by an online trader.

The study, carried out by and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, suggests that by 2020 online shopping in the UK will hit £162 billion ($315.88bn; €240.45bn) - equivalent to 40% of total national projected retail spend.

Online expenditure for 2007 is estimated to reach £40 million and although the present exponential growth rate of online shopping will inevitably decelerate over the next thirteen years, fourfold growth over that period does not seem unrealistic.

Data issued by IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) show that online sales reached £3,7bn in the four weeks prior to Christmas 2006 - a year-on-year increase of 50%.

Comments Steve Weller, head of communication services at (which commissioned the latest spending projections): "The dramatic surge in online shopping last Christmas shows that British consumers are already savvy to the benefits of buying goods and services over the internet.

"In the last year, broadband prices have fallen by up to 17%, while speeds have gone up, making it cheaper and simpler for consumers to log on instead of going out to the shops."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff